JEROME — A judge has dismissed two criminal cases against a Jerome restaurant owner accused of attempting to murder a 64-year-old mechanic who was having an affair with his wife.
Isaac Licano-Serrano, 38, of Jerome was charged with felony counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and kidnapping, but prosecutors filed stipulations to dismiss the charges Friday, and a judge signed the dismissal orders the same day.
Prosecutors had originally argued Licano-Serrano, owner of Jerome’s Tiger Stop convenience store and El Tigre Restaurant, was jealous last October over an affair between his wife and Ricardo Anacleto Nunez, a mechanic from Shoshone.
They argued Licano-Serrano lured Nunez to his house Oct. 5, 2015, then shot him in the left shoulder and held him hostage while he sat bleeding on the ground. Nunez testified last year in court that Licano-Serrano allowed him to leave after two hours, at which time he drove himself to St. Luke’s Jerome Medical Center. He was later flown to St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise where he underwent at least two surgeries.
Prosecutors cited “the interest of justice” as the reason for requesting the dismissals and wrote that “all parties have entered into the agreement.”
Brad Calbo, the attorney for Licano-Serrano, declined to comment on the cases, and Jerome County Prosecutor John Horgan does not speak to the media. The Tiger Stop restaurant was closed for Halloween when a reporter called Monday evening, and Licano-Serrano did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Without an explanation from any of the parties, there are more questions than answers in a case that was never very straightforward to begin with.
First, Nunez lied to police, telling them he was shot by several unknown men who ambushed him, put a bag over his head, held a knife to his neck and shot him when he stopped to urinate near 200 North and 200 East.
Nunez was still telling police that same story a week later when Licano-Serrano’s niece came forward to tell police that her uncle confessed to her that he shot Nunez. Several other family members later told police they witnessed parts of the incident and saw Licano-Serrano standing over Nunez with a gun Oct. 5.
The niece also told police Licano-Serrano was drinking, which was out of character for him because he’s Mormon. She said Licano-Serrano confessed to shooting Nunez after discovering the older man was having an affair with his wife. She said her uncle, a native of Mexico but a 28-year resident of Idaho, was on his way to Utah and then Mexico. Licano-Serrano was arrested in Farmington, Utah, late last October.
After Licano-Serrano’s arrest, Nunez’s story changed. He told police Licano-Serrano shot him and admitted that it was over an affair he was having with the younger man’s wife. During a preliminary hearing, he testified the reason he lied to police was because he wanted to get revenge.
During preliminary hearings in both cases and in subsequent hearings, Calbo said Licano-Serrano acted in self-defense and hinted that Nunez had been stalking and harassing Licano-Serrano’s wife. He also insinuated that Nunez was the one who attacked Licano-Serrano, forcing the younger man to defend himself.
What actually happened, though, remains unclear, but by dismissing the case “in the interest of justice,” prosecutors apparently now believe there is not evidence showing Licano-Serrano committed a crime. The case was dismissed without prejudice, however, meaning prosecutors could re-file charges if new evidence emerges that implicates Licano-Serrano in a crime.